Can a Family Member Claim for a Fatal Injury?

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The Civil Liability Act 1961 enables the “dependants” of the victim who has died as a result of the “wrongful act of another” to claim damages.

For a family member to be able to claim for a fatal injury, The damages recoverable broadly fall under three headings namely:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Mental distress
  • Loss of financial dependency

Only one action may be brought which will be for the benefit of all of the dependants.

“Dependants” is defined in the 1961 Act as a spouse or civil partner within the meaning of the Civil Partnership Act 2010, parent, grandparent, stepparent, child, grandchild, stepchild, brother, sister, half brother or half sister of the deceased. It also includes a person whose marriage to the deceased has been dissolved by divorce and a person whose civil partnership with the deceased has been dissolved under the Civil Partnership Act 2010 and also includes a person not married to the deceased but who had been living with the deceased as husband or wife for a continuous period of not less than three years. The action must be commenced within two years from the date of death or the date of knowledge of the death, as a general rule.


General damages or damages for mental distress are restricted under the Civil Liability Act 1961 to the sum of €25,394.00 in addition to funeral and other expenses actually incurred by the deceased, the dependants or the personal representative. The said amount of €25,394.00 is divided amongst the dependants as directed by the Court.

Loss of Financial Dependency

The damages which may be recovered are in the nature of compensation for the pecuniary loss sustained by each dependant party. The damages are based on the reasonable expectation of losses into the future had the deceased survived. Court awards for loss of financial dependency can be extremely high in cases, for example, where the family breadwinner has had his life cut short by the wrongful act of another. The rules for calculating the entitlement of each dependant are complex and your solicitor will advise in great detail in each case.

If you would like to find out more about this subject – Contact us today by phone: 01 661 2396, or email. DJ Synnott Solicitors, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2